Andrei Harwell & Alan Plattus, Critic;

w/ Bowen Chang (YLS) India Gupta (YSOM) Edona Murseli, U Jin Seah, & Alex Thomas (YSOA)

Interdisciplinary Housing Workshop, Fall 2023

Working with Saint John’s Roman Catholic Church and Columbus House, we helped re-envision a unused church school and vacant convent lot into 75 units of affordable housing, designed to be funded under 9% LIHTC guidelines. Additionally, the proposal remediates the relationship between the Church and the surrounding block, creating accessible paths for parishioners through a busy intersection and creating a welcoming greenspace for residents → 

Our site is located at the northern end of the main commercial corridor in Middletown, capping off a Main Street that has in the past been described as a line between two churches. Over the last century, a number of large-scale urban interventions have created a caesura between the church and its adjacent neighborhood and the downtown district. 

Our design proposal asks three significant questions: how can new developments be sensitive to older buildings on site? How can we design for the changing needs of the site and its residents? How can we create clusters of community spaces across a large site? Our proposal occupies both the existing school building west of the Church as well as the vacant former convent site on the east. This proposal can be further subdivided into two sets of structures that frame a campus-like green space at the site’s center. One on end, we propose a new extension to the building envelope of the existing school, replacing the 1980s CMU-framed fire stair and also creating a new accessible walkway from the Main St Parking Lot to the Church and the rest of the campus. On the other end of the campus are a series of townhouses that overlook the greenspace and in turn look toward the Church and the Arrigoni bridge.

Our proposal anticipates limited items of zoning relief. We anticipate obtaining the required zoning relief through the Special Exceptions provisions contained in the Middletown Zoning code, detailed below. Our legal strategy is tied to our design: throughout our design process, we molded our design to best respond to our site, context, and environment to maximize the likelihood of obtaining the required zoning relief. Our design proposal fits in with Middletown’s broader urban strategy: It helps the city move in its desired direction characterized by more affordability and increased neighborhood connections.